Seriously? You have to ask? Have you ever read a romance novel? Ok, fine, let’s talk this through.
I consider myself a strong woman. My mother is a strong woman (like, Hercules strong). Indeed, my family is FULL of strong women. But we live in a culture that has mixed feelings about that and were raised to have mixed feelings about that ourselves.
Speaking for myself, the cultural messages I got growing up included variations on these themes: 1) you can be anything you want if you work hard enough, 2) women have to work twice as hard as men to succeed, 3) if you ask for help, you will look weak, 4) you don’t need a man, 5) men are threatened by strong women. And it affects women who are not straight and cis-gendered, as well.
Much of that still circulates through our culture today, and it all seems to come down to some toxic conflation between emotional desires and being needy or weak. I call bullshit. Since when are strong women only allowed to have what they need? We deserve what we want, too!
Strong women work in the house, outside the house, for other people, for themselves, and often without suitable recognition. And by golly, we have earned our want-list. Any romantic partner worthy of us can handle a strong a woman, by definition. And yes, they DO exist.
Romance novels are full of strong women getting the lives and loves they deserve. Sure, they have to fight lots of patriarchal nonsense, face their own fears, kiss a few frogs, but in the end, they are loved and respected for exactly who they are.
Are the love interests in romance novels ready love right out of the box? Not usually. They too, need to grow and learn a few things before they get out of their own way to get their happily ever after. Everyone fights a few demons, and everyone gets love in the end.
We love romance novels because they remind us we are worthy of steamy romance with a supportive partner, and we are worthy of all that juicy goodness just as we are.
Why do I care?
I care because I firmly believe we all deserve to be loved for who we are, and we deserve supportive partners who don’t feel like their own value diminishes if they love a strong woman.
This is why I read romance, and this is why I write romance. Long live strong women, and the men and women who love them!